Tolerance, Externalism and Holiness (book review)

Title: Tolerance, Externalism And Holiness
Author: Blair Adams with Howard Wheeler
Publisher: Colloquium Press
Date: 2009
Pages: 284

Tolerance, Externalism And Holiness (book review)

One of the common terms that is often heard in America is ‘tolerance’. People are told to be tolerant of other people’s beliefs, feelings and thoughts. This is often thrown at believers and is called a crime if one is not ‘tolerant’ of other’s beliefs and actions.

Blair takes a look at what tolerance means in both the world view and in the view of scripture. Using examples from history, both ancient and more modern, Scriptural and non-Scriptural, he points out how the world is demanding tolerance to the point of not having any standards. He uses sources that are both Christian based and secular based. It is shown how the church has chosen to become more like the world and be more tolerant of sin, than what Christ is.

Many will claim (both in the church and outside the church) that believers are being legalistic if they hold to any concrete standard and are not ‘tolerant’ of sinful practices. He takes a look at how scriptures set forth many standards to be holy and what that means to a believer.

One thing he is very quick to point out is that living by a holy standard is not legalistic if done out of love for God, His commands and love for others.

Throughout this book Blair looks at arguments that are often brought against setting rock solid foundations. The two primary areas he looks at are how one dresses and how one keeps his/her hair. There is also a look at sexual practices and beliefs and how those beliefs play into dress and hair.

Although this book is very hard hitting and writes at a higher level for most people, I highly recommend reading it. It will challenge your thinking and beliefs. It will cause you the question what you are seeing in the world today and how the church is currently responding.

Proverbs 4:14-15 Where To Avoid Walking

People on a street

Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. Proverbs 4:14-15 

There are many different paths in life for a person to take. It is most common for a person to take the path that the most people have taken.

Choosing that path is easy because it goes with the flow, it does not create ripples or hardships and there are others on that same path. It appears to be the best path because many others are on it.

Solomon says that one should not set foot on the path of the wicked at all. One should avoid it at all costs and go another direction.

The path that the majority of people take in this world is one of selfishness and sin. It is usually a path that goes against God and leads one into more sin. The paths are ones of hatred, vengeance, greed, violence, pride, gossip, jealousy, and more.

There are many ‘believers’ who are taking the path of those in the world, the path of the wicked. They choose to watch, listen or do sinful things, because that is what every one else is doing. Often they do it with the claim that they are free in Christ and not bound by the law.

Jesus did not die to allow a person to sin more, but to free him from the bondage of sin’s punishment. It is to free the believer from continuing to sin on purpose. He has given a new path to walk on that is narrow and straight and leads to life and victory in love, grace and mercy.

Turning towards sin and accepting it as a part of life is to deny Christ and what He has done. The believer must avoid all paths of sin and run the other way, flee temptation.

The world will strive to get you to walk on their path. They will make it look and sound good for you. Avoid it, run from it. Avoid walking in any type of evil or sin.

God’s path for you has true life. It may be narrow and difficult, but it is full of life, leading to eternal life. Do not walk it to earn your salvation, but because you are saved. Walk it to thank God for what He has done for you. This is not to be done out of legalism, but out of love for God.

I pray today that you will know the path God has for you; that God will reveal to you paths that are wicked; that God will guide you from paths of the wicked; and that God will give you strength to avoid sinful paths. 

Grace Rules

Title: Grace Rules
Author:
Steve McVey
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Date: 1998
Pages: 203

The author looks at how many Christians are living for God, but are not always living in joy and excitement with God. People are always condemning themselves for the sins they have committed and feel that they will never measure up to God’s standard of living. They are being robbed of the abundant life that Jesus said every believer will have.

He points out that many Christians are living under the laws of many things to do or not to do. They feel that in order to please God, they must follow all the laws, both God’s and man-made, perfectly. They also impose those laws on others. This type of living is a legalistic life, living by rules, rather than by grace. If the Israelites in the Old Testament were unable to fully obey the laws of God, no one today can begin to do it either.

Looking at the New Testament, the author shows that Jesus fulfilled the law’s requirements which now allows God to pour out grace on His followers. No person is good enough to deserve the life God is willing to give through Jesus. No person will ever become good enough to earn their way into heaven.

This is where grace comes in. God is willing to give you the abundant life in and through Jesus. Jesus is to live in. You are to be controlled by Jesus and the Holy Spirit, rather than by your own thoughts and actions or this world.

It is pointed out that under the law, you have to obey God. Under grace, you will want to obey God. Previously it was a mandatory requirement. Now it is a choice desire.

The Bible calls every believer in Jesus a holy child of God, a royal priesthood. Do you believe that you are a holy child of God and a royal priesthood in God’s family?

This book will help you see the fullness of the grace God is willing to pour out on you. It will help you see how you can have your heart changed to be able to overcome sinful acts in your life.

If you are struggling with living the “full” life Jesus had promised; or if you feel like there should be more to your life with Jesus; or if you feel like you just don’t measure up to God’s standards, then this book is a great book for you to read.

This book is written in easy to read format. There are questions at the end of each chapter for you to ask yourself in response to what was written. Many scripture verses are used throughout the book. I highly recommend every believer to read this book.

Matthew 16:6 Be On Your Guard

“Be careful, Jesus said to them. Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 16:6

Jesus had just fed 4,000 people with just a little bread and fish. The people had been sent home and Jesus and the disciples left the area. Suddenly Jesus tells the disciples something that is a little different. He talks about yeast.

In the following verses, the first thought of the disciples had been about not having enough bread to feed the people. It was their first thought to focus on a mistake they feel they made.

They felt they should have had enough foresight to bring bread for food while Jesus was teaching. Jesus had never said anything like that. He was talking about the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The teachings of these leaders were ones of extreme legalism with no love or mercy. Their teachings were not fully in line with God’s word and plans.

Pharisees and Sadducees looked at doing all the rituals for God perfectly. Even in the Old Testament, God had stated that He desired mercy and not sacrifice. God had not changed.

Although, today most leaders in a church do not talk about sacrificing animals on the altar, there is much legalism being taught. Very often, in many churches, you have to live, act, and dress a certain way or you are not Christian.

There is also another extreme in the churches. This extreme is that God has not rules and is all about love and anything goes. There are churches that teach a person can be a Christian while living in a direct, purposeful, sinful lifestyle.

Acceptance of pornography, homosexuality, violence and false religions in the church is on a rise. Often it is masked behind the false premise of loving people.

You have to be on your guard against such teachings. These teachings are like yeast in bread, a little bit goes a long ways. Very little yeast can produce a large loaf of bread.

Small amounts of false teaching, spread quickly. It spreads because people like to hear it. It is not the truth of God and costs nothing (at the time).

Keep yourself in God’s Word. Keep praying for direction and wisdom. Stay filled with God’s guiding Holy Spirit. Do not allow yourself to fall for false teachings that look and sound good.

I pray today that God will guide you by His Holy Spirit; that God will reveal false teachings around you; that you will stay focused on the teachings of Jesus; that God will help you to be on guard against false teachings; and that God will use you to spread the true gospel message.